Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta once said: “Many people may think that; now there is uhuru, now I can see the sun of freedom shining, richness will pour down like manna from heaven. I tell you, there will be nothing from heaven. We must all work hard, with our hands, to save ourselves from poverty, ignorance, and disease.”
Jomo Kenyatta and the other heroes of independence rebelled against foreign colonial rule. A lot of them rebelled and paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can be free.
Our ancestors led the way in rebellion, and thus we reap the benefits of liberty, self-determination, and freedom. They bequeathed to us this land, its abundance, blessings, and opportunity.
We put down our guns and picked up our shovels. Our instruments of war were replaced by implements to till and work our land. As the Bible instructed us, we beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.
We turned our lives from warriors into custodians of the land. We became the owners of our own future. So for many years and decades, we forgot how to rebel.
Not in the sense of the rebellion that broke the yoke of foreign rule. Violence was necessary then for our freedom and human dignity, but as soon as the republic had been proclaimed, the force was no longer a legitimate tool. Over time, we inured ourselves to misrule, corruption, and selfish, unpatriotic culture.
Nonetheless, now we must begin a new rebellion; against poverty, corruption, injustice, impunity, and insecurity. We must reclaim the motivation and enthusiasm for rebellion to ensure we never accept the status quo or decline, which affected our nation for far too long.
Since 2013, Uhuru has spoken about economic transformation, honest and transparent government, with public services that are open and accountable to the people and the extension of basic services like water, electricity, internet, and healthcare for all Kenyans.
These and many other policies were part of a new vision for Kenya. Many former leaders had feared change or were too risk-averse to begin a revolution in the country. Many couldn’t think big and dealt with challenges tactically.
If during his first term in office Uhuru laid the foundations for the rebellion, his second term has amply demonstrated that we have a rebel in State House who is providing some of the solutions to challenges that have plagued our nation since independence.
The Big 4 Agenda and the Building Bridges Initiative are Uhuru’s real rebellion against stasis and inertia. And he is not about to suffer any fools gladly.
These are not just big ideas; they are paradigm-changing missions and visions that are reshaping the Republic. According to the World Bank, poverty is declining every year and several percentage points since Uhuru took over. Poverty incidence in Kenya is amongst the lowest in East Africa and is lower than the Sub-Saharan African regional average.
For the first time in the history of the nation, those in the highest levels of office are no longer immune from prosecution. Corruption is being fought at all levels and dozens of previously ‘untouchable’ governors, government officials and high-level businessmen are having their day in court. Billions of shillings are being recovered for the public purse.
While launching the Big 4 in December 2017, Uhuru explained its premise to the Kenyan populace: “You told me that a jobless Kenyan is a desperate Kenyan; you told me that a hungry Kenyan is a negative Kenyan; you told me that a sick Kenyan is a weak Kenyan; and you told me that a homeless Kenyan is a Kenyan without hope.”
Uhuru heard the people and decided to lead the people in rebellion against desperation, negativity, weakness, and hopelessness. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Uhuru led a rebellion against our nation’s greatest affliction, ethnic, tribal and political division.
By reaching out and shaking the hand of Raila Odinga, Uhuru showed that just as his father used his hands when necessary for war, he will use them for peace. He will increase unity where there had been diversity and amity where there was previously animosity.
Uhuru’s rebellion is a fitting symbol as we pay tribute to those who fought and shed blood, sweat, and tears for this nation. They didn’t rebel against the foreign rule so we could be a nation of suffering, scarcity, and misery.
They saw in their rebellion a time to rule ourselves for a better future for all the people of our beautiful and bountiful land. Uhuru’s rebellion is the necessary next chapter in our national struggle.
Mr Guleid is the CEO of Frontier Counties Development Council. [email protected]